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The Art of Fluid Painting

Dancer-Turned-Artist Creating 'Beautiful Movement' on Canvas

Kate Wiley, owner of Taloa Oka' Studio, began her artistic journey as a dancer before turning to the paintbrush. Throughout her childhood, she looked to her father, who took her along to art exhibits and gallery shows, for inspiration.

From a young age, Kate found her creative outlet in dancing, and spent the next 30 years exploring different genres. The concept of movement became an important aspect of her art, but it wasn’t until 2020 that she tackled the canvas.

The idea of fluid artwork piqued Kate’s interest, so when she expressed her intention to craft vivid, flowing creations, her husband came home with bags of paint, encouraging her to jump right in.

With a combination of artistic genes from her father and self-determination, Kate was able to teach herself the art of fluid painting after watching videos and learning through trial and error. After countless hours of adding resin and acrylics to wood panels, her career in painting began to take off.

“It all began to feel like I was one with the process,” she says. “It accepted me, and I accepted it. It was something that I could do well and be proud of. So, I started exhibiting in art shows in 2021. In December, I exhibited in my first solo art show in the Aapisa' Gallery at the Chickasaw Cultural Center. Then, in January of this year, I began my second solo exhibit at the ARTesian Gallery in Sulphur, Oklahoma. It has been a truly wonderful experience and I'm so grateful to the Chickasaw Nation for giving me these opportunities.”

Within her Native American roots, Kate found a suitable name for her studio—Taloa Oka’—which means singing water in the Chickasaw language. Although her paintings break away from traditional Indigenous art, her culture is showcased within each unique piece she finishes.

“Our people have a long tradition of making art, and dancing has always been a very important cultural aspect to the Chickasaw people as well,” Kate explains. “I chose this name for my studio because I absolutely love rain. The sound of it makes me feel relaxed, peaceful and joyful, and this is how I want people to feel when they experience my art. I’m also going to be working on a series this year of the four elements—wind, water, earth and fire—which are all important aspects of our culture.”

To create a central movement in her artwork, Kate uses her favorite color scheme of purples, pinks and blues against a contrasting black background. She then finishes the vibrant colors with resin to create a glossy sheen that mimics the look of water. When it comes to defining her personal artistic style, Kate found her fluid paintings connected to her history of dance.

“While exhibiting at an art festival in 2021, I had an onlooker describe my paintings as having such beautiful movement, and it hit me that my art was dancing on canvas,” Kate recalls. “I was taking my lifelong love of dance and conveying that with paints. Since then, I have defined my art as such: ‘Dancing on Canvas.’ I love to incorporate beautiful flowing movement that makes you sway as you follow the momentum of the piece.”

The development of creating such intricate waves of paint comes with the obstacle of Kate’s mediums taking its own sense of control on the canvas. The finished result may often stray from her original intention, as it takes six to eight weeks to be finalized, but Kate finds beauty within the process.

“Doing fluid art has really helped me in my personal growth journey,” she says. “I always say fluid art has a mind of its own. There is much less control over how the piece turns out than painting with brushes. You have somewhat of a short working time to get the design where you want it before the paints start to set up and won't move anymore. When I begin a piece, I have a color scheme and basic design in mind. How the piece turns out sometimes is not at all what I had envisioned.

"You have to have an open mind and work with the paint to release a certain amount of control over it and see where it takes you. This has really taught me so much about life. What I paint is an extension of who I am.”

Kate encourages others to jump into their own creative outlets to explore what hidden crafts they might find. Her signature streams of paint and flowing art style are meant to uplift and inspire.

“I hope my art makes people feel joy and freedom,” she says. “I hope it brings light to their day with a celebration of color and movement. I hope they look at the abstract nature of a piece and find something new to see each time they look at it. I also hope that I can be an encouragement to those who have never taken the step to try an artform, to just go for it.

"Experiment and find what you enjoy doing in life," she adds. "Take the pressure off and just play … see where it takes you. My motto is a very simple idea that took me years to figure out: ‘Be who you want to be.’ I truly hope my art can be a reminder of that.”

Learn more about the artist and studio on Facebook and Instagram.

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